Research

Are you being sarcastic in your Tweets – new algorithm can discern your intent

beSpacific - Mon, 08/07/2017 - 19:44

“We use millions of texts on Twitter containing emojis for training a deep learning model that understands many nuances of how language is used to express emotions. For instance, it does well at capturing sarcasm and slang. We beat state-of-the-art algorithms across many benchmarks datasets. See our paper, blog post or FAQ for more details. DeepMoji is based on research done by Bjarke Felbo, Alan Mislove, Anders Søgaard, Iyad Rahwan and Sune Lehmann. The research to further improve our understanding of emotional content in text is carried out by Bjarke Felbo, Nick Obradovich, Holly Shablack, Kristen Lindquist and Iyad Rahwan. The website was designed by Max Lever. Disclaimer: Note that the model has learned about language from the raw, uncurated expressions of individuals on social media. We do not endorse in any way the emotional interpretation that the model has of any particular content…”

Categories: Research

Introducing a new way to share YouTube videos

beSpacific - Mon, 08/07/2017 - 19:26

YouTube Blog: “…Starting today, you can share videos with your friends and family directly on YouTube. Not only can you share and receive videos in the app, you can also chat about them right on YouTube, reply with another video, invite others to the conversation, and more. We think it’ll make sharing easier, faster and more fun on your phone. And if you want to continue sharing videos through other apps, you can still do that too…”

Categories: Research

USGS – Protected Areas Data Portal

beSpacific - Mon, 08/07/2017 - 19:19

“The Protected Areas Database of the United States (PAD-US) was recently highlighted on the U.S. Geological Survey website. Mapping Public Lands in the United States describes this growing database containing more than three billion public land and marine acres managed by nearly 15,100 agencies and nongovernmental organizations,  and covering 200,000 separate parks and protected areas. PAD-US is a product of Core Science Analytics, Synthesis, and Library (CSAS&L) in the USGS Core Science Systems Mission Area. Explore the PAD-US Map Viewer.”

Categories: Research

GAO Report on increasing deployment of DOD biometrics and forensics

beSpacific - Mon, 08/07/2017 - 19:10

DOD Biometrics and Forensics: Progress Made in Establishing Long-term Deployable Capabilities, but Further Actions Are Needed, GAO-17-580: Published: Aug 7, 2017. Publicly Released: Aug 7, 2017.
“The Department of Defense (DOD) has validated its requirements for long-term deployable biometric capabilities (such as fingerprint collection devices) and forensic capabilities (such as expeditionary laboratories). Biometric capabilities are used to identify individuals based on measurable anatomical, physiological, and behavioral characteristics such as fingerprints, iris scans, and voice recognition. Forensic capabilities support the scientific analysis of evidence—such as deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and latent fingerprints—to link persons, places, things, and events. DOD utilizes deployable biometric and forensic capabilities to support a range of military operations, such as targeting, force protection, and humanitarian assistance. DOD has made significant progress in addressing its long-term requirements for deployable biometric and forensic capabilities, such as issuing new doctrine and establishing long-term funding for several capabilities, including DOD’s authoritative biometric database that is used for identifying enemy combatants and terrorists. However, DOD’s efforts to institutionalize these capabilities are limited by the following strategic planning gaps and acquisition management challenges:

  • While DOD has a current and approved forensic strategic plan, it does not have one for its biometric capabilities, because no entity has been assigned responsibility for developing such a plan, according to DOD officials.
  • The Army did not follow DOD’s acquisition protocols in developing a recent key biometric capability, and it may have missed an opportunity to leverage existing, viable, and less costly alternatives.
  • DOD’s authoritative biometric database that is used for identifying enemy combatants and terrorists does not have a geographically dispersed back-up capability to protect against threats such as natural hazards. Having such a back-up could enhance the database’s availability.

Addressing these strategic planning and acquisition management challenges could help DOD sustain the progress it has made to establish enduring deployable biometric and forensic capabilities.”

Categories: Research

Can Elon Musk Be Weaned Off Government Support?

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Mon, 08/07/2017 - 18:40
mi shares an opinion piece written by Jenny Beth Martin via The Hill: A study published in 2015 by The Los Angeles Times revealed that just three of Musk's ventures -- SolarCity Corp. (which manufactured and installed solar energy systems before its 2016 merger with Tesla Motors Inc.), Tesla Motors Inc. (which manufactures electric vehicles), and Space Exploration Technologies Corp., known as SpaceX (which builds rocket ships) -- had received $4.9 billion in government subsidies to that point in time. By now, Musk's various ventures have sucked well over $5 billion from government coffers. Worse: in order to induce car buyers to spend their money on electric vehicles, the federal government offers a $7,500 rebate on the purchase price. Some states enhance that rebate with rebates of their own. In California, for instance, purchasers of electric vehicles get a state-funded rebate of $2,500 more. Slashdot reader mi asks: "Why are you and I subsidizing Elon Musk's products and when will his businesses be able to compete on their own?"

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Research

Residents in Three Out of Four Counties in U.S. Now Before Immigration Court

beSpacific - Mon, 08/07/2017 - 18:27

“The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University has just released a brand new web mapping application that allows the public to examine for the very first time the number of individuals residing in each state, county, and local community within a county, who have pending cases before the Immigration Court. The level of geographic detail now available reveals some surprising facts. There are a very large number of communities across the country that now have residents with cases before the Immigration Court. Currently pending court cases directly involve residents in 11,894 communities across the country. Indeed, a startling 2,507 separate counties in the United States – more than three out of every four counties (78%) – have residents with cases currently pending before the Immigration Court. And a total of 39 out of the 50 states have 1,000 or more residents now before the Immigration Court. Twenty-two states have communities on the list of the top 100 places with the largest number of pending court cases. A total of 30 out of these top 100 communities are located in California. New York has twelve. Texas and Florida each have ten. Virginia has eight. Leading the list is Houston, Texas with a total of 33,360 pending cases, following by Queens and Brooklyn New York with 25,420 and 14,960 cases respectively. Los Angeles, California with 14,287 pending cases and San Fernando Valley, California with 9,311 pending cases were in fourth and fifth place. To view the report with the top 100 communities go to: http://trac.syr.edu/immigration/reports/476/.”

Categories: Research

Axios – Visualizing the Flow of Goods Across America

beSpacific - Mon, 08/07/2017 - 18:25

This map shows the flow of all domestic freight between states in 2015 using data from the Freight Analysis Framework, which is a comprehensive accounting of all commercial freight movement between states by all modes of transportation. This includes freight moved by trucks, trains, planes and pipelines, but excludes foreign imports and exports and freights transported within a state. How to read it: The arrows represent the origin and destination of goods shipped between states. Thicker and darker arrows indicate higher volume (each commodity is scaled relative to the highest volume between any two states, so arrow size isn’t comparable across commodities)…”

Categories: Research

A New Tool for Looking at Federal Cybersecurity Spending

Project On Government Oversight - Mon, 08/07/2017 - 15:19
A new tool from Taxpayers for Common Sense provides the most comprehensive public snapshot of unclassified cybersecurity spending.
Categories: Research

The justices tackle partisan gerrymandering again: In Plain English

SCOTUS Blog - Mon, 08/07/2017 - 13:33

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has suggested that it might be the most important case of the upcoming term. On October 3, the Supreme Court will hear oral argument in Gill v. Whitford, a challenge to the redistricting plan passed by Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled legislature in 2011. A federal court struck down the plan last year, concluding that it violated the Constitution because it was the product of partisan gerrymandering – that is, the practice of purposely drawing district lines to favor one party and put another at a disadvantage. The challengers argue that the redistricting plan would allow Republicans to cement control of the state’s legislature for years to come, even if popular support for the party wanes; the lower court’s decision, they contend, merely corrected “a serious democratic malfunction that would otherwise have gone unremedied.” By contrast, the state of Wisconsin counters that if the lower court’s decision is allowed to stand, it will open the door to “unprecedented intervention in the American political process.”

The Wisconsin case is not the Supreme Court’s first foray into partisan gerrymandering. When the Supreme Court tackled the issue 13 years ago, in a challenge to Pennsylvania’s redistricting plan, the justices were deeply divided. Four justices – Justice Antonin Scalia, joined by then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Clarence Thomas – agreed in Vieth v. Jubelirer that courts should never review partisan-gerrymandering claims, because it is too hard to come up with a manageable test to determine when politics plays too influential a role in redistricting. Four other justices – Justices John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David Souter and Stephen Breyer – disagreed; they would have allowed courts to review partisan-gerrymandering claims. The key vote in the case came (as it so often does) from Justice Anthony Kennedy, who agreed that the Supreme Court should stay out of the Pennsylvania case but left open the door for courts to have a role in reviewing partisan-gerrymandering cases in the future if a workable standard could be found.

Over several decades, federal courts – rather than the Wisconsin legislature – drew the state’s redistricting maps, after politicians could not agree on a plan. But in 2010, Republicans won control of both houses of the state legislature and the governor’s office, which led to the legislature, instead of the courts, redrawing the maps after the 2010 census. Republicans fared well in the two elections that followed: In 2012, they won 48.6% of the statewide vote, giving them 60 seats in the state’s 99-seat assembly, while in 2014 they won 52% of the vote, giving them 63 seats. By contrast, in 2012, Democrats won 51.4% of the vote but secured 39 seats, while in 2014 they won approximately 48% of the vote, which gave them 36 seats.

A group of challengers, led by retired law professor William Whitford, went to court to oppose the new redistricting plan as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. They argued that the legislature had created a plan that was intended to dilute Democratic votes across the state, using two methods: “cracking,” which divides up supporters of one party among different districts so that they do not form a majority in any of them; and “packing,” which puts large numbers of a party’s supporters in relatively few districts, where they win by large margins.

A divided three-judge district court (which, under federal law, is the designated forum for redistricting challenges) agreed with the challengers. The court acknowledged that politics can play a role in redistricting, and that there is no violation of the Constitution simply because one party’s share of the seats in a legislature exceeds its share of the statewide vote. But, the court continued, even if it can sometimes be difficult to tell when politics plays too influential a role in redistricting, this case is “far more straightforward.” The record in the case, the court concluded, showed that the state legislature intended to, and did, draft a redistricting plan to lock in Republican control of the state legislature, even though it could have drafted a different plan that would have accomplished other valid redistricting goals “while generating a substantially smaller partisan advantage.”

Urging the justices to reverse the district court’s ruling, the state of Wisconsin emphasizes that partisan gerrymandering is both a longstanding and common practice. Moreover, it continues, the 2010 map does not violate the Constitution because politics was only one of several factors that the legislature considered in drafting a map that “complies with traditional redistricting principles.” It goes on to point out that the 2010 map is not significantly different from the map drawn by a federal court in 2002, under which Republicans won 53.5% of the statewide vote, giving them 60 seats in the assembly.

The state also argues that the challengers lack a legal right – known as “standing” – to challenge the whole 2010 map. For example, they point out, lead plaintiff William Whitford lives in a district that Democrats have historically won by wide margins. Whitford’s injury, therefore, is not that his own vote is diluted, but that the 2010 map makes it harder for him to “engage in campaign activity to achieve a majority” in the assembly. But that is not the kind of specific and personal injury that Whitford would need to file a lawsuit, the state stresses. Instead, the state contends, it is “a subjective preference that any person could assert, so long as that person is interested in the election of more Wisconsin Democrats.”

Allowing claims by plaintiffs like Whitford to go forward would also create an “unthinkable and perverse loophole,” the state tells the justices, by permitting statewide partisan-gerrymandering challenges even though the Supreme Court has ruled that plaintiffs in racial-gerrymandering cases can only challenge their own districts, rather than statewide maps. Given the close correlation between race and party affiliation, the state suggests, allowing statewide challenges based on partisan gerrymandering would almost certainly prompt plaintiffs to bring their racial-gerrymandering cases as partisan challenges.

Finally, the state observes that one of the most important tests for whether something is a “political question” – that is, an issue best left to the elected branches of the government, rather than the courts – is whether there are standards that courts can easily identify and apply to resolve the dispute. That is certainly not the case for partisan gerrymandering, the state contends, as the “last three decades of fruitless litigation” have shown. But in any event, the state tells the court, the challengers cannot win because their proposed rule is not “limited and precise,” but in fact is the “opposite,” because it relies on a mix of social-science techniques that would “sow chaos”: Each plan drawn by a state legislature “would be immediately challenged in federal court. A trial would follow, where each side would present dueling ‘social science’ expert(s), and then the district court would need to pick a winner. There would be no way for any legislature to know, ex ante, what metric would guide the inevitable future trial.”

The challengers seemingly agree with the state that a key question in the dispute now before the Supreme Court is whether there is an identifiable and manageable test for partisan gerrymandering. But the answer to that question, they counter, is yes. Each of the three parts of the test that the lower court applied to reach its conclusion that the 2010 map violates the Constitution, they argue, is both squarely grounded in the Supreme Court’s cases and “highly workable.”

First, they note, the district court looked at whether the 2010 map reflects an intent by Republicans to discriminate against Democrats. Pointing to the court’s earlier partisan-gerrymandering cases that specifically refer to the map drafters’ intent, they argue that the Supreme Court itself has indicated that the intent inquiry is a manageable one that can be applied consistently.

Turning to the district court’s conclusion that the 2010 map also had a discriminatory effect, the challengers assert that several justices specifically envisioned an inquiry into whether a redistricting plan had a discriminatory effect in League of United Latin American Citizens v. Perry, a 2006 case in which the court rejected the claim that Texas’ 2003 congressional redistricting was an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. The challengers emphasize that they are not asking the Supreme Court to endorse a specific social-science technique to measure a plan’s discriminatory effect. Rather, they stress, they are simply asking the court to do what it has done in other redistricting cases involving allegations of discriminatory effect: announce a standard “whose precise contours are filled in through subsequent litigation.”

The third prong in the district court’s test – whether there is a “legitimate justification” for the map – is, the challengers contend, “drawn directly” from the Supreme Court’s cases involving the “one-person, one-vote” doctrine – the principle that legislative districts should contain roughly equal populations. Experience demonstrates that this prong is workable, the challengers add, because it has been used in “one-person, one-vote” cases for 50 years; the “legitimate justification” test has also been suggested by “several” justices in the court’s partisan-gerrymandering cases.

The challengers also push back against two other arguments advanced by the state, beginning with the idea that, like racial-gerrymandering cases, partisan-gerrymandering claims cannot challenge an entire statewide map. In his concurring opinion in Vieth, the challengers stress, Kennedy clearly “contemplated partisan gerrymandering claims proceeding on a statewide basis.” And four years later in LULAC, they note, the plaintiffs “challenged Texas’s congressional plan in its entirety,” but “not a single Justice hinted that the suit was foreclosed for this reason.” The state’s suggestion that the 2010 map passes constitutional muster because it complies with “traditional” redistricting principles is also both unfounded and still in dispute, the challengers contend: The 2010 map not only “splits more counties than any other map in Wisconsin’s history and was found to violate” the Voting Rights Act, but the districts that it outlines “are also less compact, on average, than those of any other Wisconsin map for which data is available.”

Only four of the current justices – Justices Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer – were on the court in 2004, when the justices declined to act in Vieth. And three of the current justices – Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Neil Gorsuch – had not yet joined the court when it decided LULAC in 2006. But we may be able to discern at least a hint of those three justices’ views on this case from an order that the court issued on June 19, the same day that it announced that it would review the case: The justices granted the state’s request to block an order by the lower court that would have required the state legislature to create a new redistricting plan by the fall. The state had argued that it should not have to spend time and money creating a new map until the Supreme Court can rule on the validity of the old plan; at a minimum, the state claimed, the court’s eventual opinion will provide “significant guidance” for the state to use in drafting a new redistricting plan. Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan indicated that they would have denied the state’s request, but the state’s ability to muster the five votes that it needed to put the lower court’s order on hold may bode poorly for the challengers, because one factor that the justices had to consider in making their decision was whether the state is likely to succeed on the merits of its claim. We will know more after the justices hear oral argument in early October.

The post The justices tackle partisan gerrymandering again: In Plain English appeared first on SCOTUSblog.

Categories: Research

In Recess #2: #BadLawyerGate

SCOTUS Blog - Mon, 08/07/2017 - 08:33

This week’s episode was originally a “bonus” episode exclusively for our premium supporters, but we decided to unlock it for all our listeners in honor of our new partnership with SCOTUSblog.  In the episode, prompted by a tempest arising out our comments about advocate quality on an earlier show,we talk about the problem of unprepared counsel refusing to give up Supreme Court oral arguments to more experienced attorneys. We discuss why the problem exists, the ethical conundrums it creates, and what, if anything, can be done to fix it. The best part of the episode, though, is an interview with legendary Supreme Court practitioner Lisa Blatt, who at the time of recording was sitting on an unbelievable 32-2 record in argued cases in the Supreme Court, and who has since then improved to an even more mind-boggling 33-2.  Lisa explains her unorthodox argument preparation techniques, helps us understand why she’s been such a consistent winner, and offers her thoughts on the problem of unprepared oral advocates. We had a great discussion, and you won’t want to miss it.

The post In Recess #2: #BadLawyerGate appeared first on SCOTUSblog.

Categories: Research

Monday round-up

SCOTUS Blog - Mon, 08/07/2017 - 07:51

Briefly:

  • Counting to 5 (podcast) features an interview with Gabe Roth of Fix the Court, a nonprofit that advocates for institutional reform of the Supreme Court, on the group’s “recent proposal to impose term limits” on Supreme Court justices.
  • The American Bankruptcy Institute’s Rochelle’s Daily Wire (subscription or registration required) argues that by granting the pending cert petition in Ivey v. First Citizens Bank and Trust Company, the “Supreme Court can resolve a split of circuits and in the process prevent debtors from winning discharges despite having committed fraudulent transfers with actual intent to hinder, delay or defraud creditors.

Remember, we rely exclusively on our readers to send us links for our round-up.  If you have or know of a recent (published in the last two or three days) article, post, or op-ed relating to the Court that you’d like us to consider for inclusion in the round-up, please send it to roundup [at] scotusblog.com.

The post Monday round-up appeared first on SCOTUSblog.

Categories: Research

Ask Slashdot: Are My Drone Apps Phoning Home?

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Mon, 08/07/2017 - 00:39
Slashdot reader bitwraith noticed something suspicious after flying "a few cheap, ready-to-fly quadcopters" with their smartphone apps, including drones from Odyssey and Eachine. I often turn off my phone's Wi-Fi support before plugging it in to charge at night, only to discover it has mysteriously turned on in the morning. After checking the Wi-Fi Control History on my S7, it appears as though the various cookie-cutter apps for these drones wake up to phone home in the night after they are opened, while the phone is charging. I tried contacting the publisher of the Odyssey VR app, with no reply. I would uninstall the app, but then how would I fly my drone? Why did Google grant permission to control Wi-Fi state implicitly to all apps, including these abusers? Are the apps phoning home to report my flight history? The original submission asks about similar experiences from other drone-owning Slashdot users -- so leave your best answers in the comments. What's making this phone wake up in the night? Are the drone apps phoning home?

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Research

Net Neutrality Rollback Faces New Criticism From US Congress -- And 16 Million Comments

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Sun, 08/06/2017 - 21:49
An anonymous reader quotes TechCrunch's newest update on the FCC's attempt to gut net neutrality protections: 10 Representatives who helped craft the law governing the FCC itself have submitted an official comment on the proposal ruthlessly dismantling it... The FCC is well within its rights to interpret the law, and it doesn't have to listen to contrary comments from the likes of you and me. It does, however, have to listen to Congress -- "congressional intent" is a huge factor in determining whether an interpretation of the law is reasonable. And in the comment they've just filed, Representatives Pallon, Doyle et al. make it very clear that their intent was and remains very different from how the FCC has chosen to represent it. "The law directs the FCC to look at ISP services as distinct from those services that ride over the networks. The FCC's proposal contravenes our intent... While some may argue that this distinction should be abandoned because of changes in today's market, that choice is not the FCC's to make. The decision remains squarely with those of us in Congress -- and we have repeatedly chosen to leave the law as it is." In another letter Thursday, 15 Congressmen asked FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to extend the time period for comments. They note the proposed changes have received more than 16 million comments, more than four times the number of comments on any previous FCC item. The Hill reports that the previous record was 4 million comments -- during the FCC's last net neutrality proceeding in 2014 -- and "the lawmakers also noted that the comment period for approving net neutrality in 2014 was 60 days. Pai has only allowed a 30-day comment period for his plan to rollback the rules."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Research

Alliance for Securing Democracy – Hamilton 68: A New Tool to Track Russian Disinformation on Twitter

beSpacific - Sun, 08/06/2017 - 19:52

“The Alliance for Securing Democracy, a bipartisan, transatlantic initiative housed at The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF), will develop comprehensive strategies to defend against, deter, and raise the costs on Russian and other state actors’ efforts to undermine democracy and democratic institutions. The Alliance will work to publicly document and expose Vladimir Putin’s ongoing efforts to subvert democracy in the United States and Europe…”

  • Since Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. election, many have warned that Putin will be back in 2018 and 2020.  But the reality is that Russian influence operations never left. As former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper recently stated, the Kremlin is already beginning to “prep the battlefield” for the 2018 elections. But what does this mean? Russia’s activities continue on multiple fronts. One happening right under our nose and in plain sight is its continued information operations aimed at spreading propaganda and disinformation online. Indeed, Russia’s information operations in 2016 did not happen overnight — they were enabled by a foundation built over several years of operations in U.S. information space. Since the election, Russia’s efforts to shape what Americans think has continued.  Americans deserve to know what messages Russian disinformation networks are pushing.

    “In the Federalist Papers No. 68, Alexander Hamilton wrote of protecting America’s electoral process from foreign meddling. Today, we face foreign interference of a type Hamilton could scarcely have imagined.”

    The Hamilton 68 dashboard, launching today as part of the Alliance for Securing Democracy, provides a near real-time look at Russian propaganda and disinformation efforts online. The top of the page shows tweets from official Russian propaganda outlets in English, and a short post discussing the themes of the day. This is Russia’s overt messaging. But these disinformation networks also include bots and trolls that synchronize to promote Russian messaging themes, including attack campaigns and the spreading of disinformation. Some of these accounts are directly controlled by Russia, others are users who on their own initiative reliably repeat and amplify Russian themes. Our analysis is based on linked 600 Twitter accounts to Russian influence activities online, and the lower section of the dashboard features charts that display topics, hashtags, and links currently promoted by this network.    The content this network tweets reflects Russian messaging priorities, but that does not mean every name or link you see on the dashboard is pro-Russian. The network sometimes amplifies stories that Russia likes, or people with like-minded views but no formal connection to Russia. Importantly, the network also tweets about stories and people that Russia seeks to discredit or attack…”

Categories: Research

A US Spy Plane Has Been Flying Circles Over Seattle For Days

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Sun, 08/06/2017 - 19:49
turkeydance shares Thursday's report from The Drive: A very unique U.S. Air Force surveillance aircraft has been flying highly defined circles over Seattle and its various suburbs for nine days now... The aircraft, which goes by the callsign "SPUD21" and wears a nondescript flat gray paint job with the only visible markings being a U.S. Air Force serial on its tail, is a CASA CN-235-300 transport aircraft that has been extensively modified... It is covered in a dizzying array of blisters, protrusions, humps and bumps. These include missile approach warning detectors and large fairings on its empennage for buckets of forward-firing decoy flares, as well as both microwave -- the dome antenna behind the wing and flat antenna modification in front of the wing -- and ultra high-frequency satellite communications -- the platter-like antenna behind the dome antenna. A communications intelligence suite also appears to be installed on the aircraft, with the antenna farm on the bottom of its fuselage being a clear indication of such a capability. But what's most interesting is the aircraft's apparent visual intelligence gathering installation... This particular CN-235, with the serial 96-6042, is one of six that researchers commonly associated with the Air Force's top secret 427th Special Operations Squadron... The 427th occupies the same space with a host of other "black" U.S. military aviation elements, most of which are affiliated to some degree with Joint Special Operations Command and the Intelligence Community... [I]f the military placed the aircraft under civilian control to some degree and with an appropriate legal justification, the U.S. military could possibly fly it in support of a domestic operation or one focused on a foreign suspect or organization operating within the United States... It's also entirely possible, if not probable, that the aircraft could be involved in a realistic training exercise rather than an actual operation... The area could have simply provided a suitable urban area to test existing or new surveillance technologies, too, though this could spark serious privacy concerns if true. Friday an Air Force Special Operations Command public affairs officer confirmed that the plane was one of theirs, describing its activity as "just a training mission," according to Russia Today.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Research

Federal Inspectors General Beta Website offers searchable database of reports

beSpacific - Sun, 08/06/2017 - 17:30

Oversight.gov is a publicly accessible, searchable website containing the latest public reports from contributing Federal Inspectors General who are members of the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE). The site is operated and maintained by CIGIE. The reports and information are uploaded to this site by the IGs… Oversight.gov was created by Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE) to consolidate in one place all public reports from contributing Federal Inspectors General (IGs) in order to improve the public’s access to independent and authoritative information about the Federal Government. The site includes a publicly accessible, text searchable repository of reports published by participating Federal Inspectors General (IGs). The reports appearing on Oversight.gov, as well as the data associated with them, have been posted directly to the site by the IG that issued it. CIGIE operates and maintains the site.  Reports on Oversight.gov can also be accessed through the websites of the individual Offices of Inspectors General (OIGs). Oversight.gov is still under development: OIGs continue to add their reports and data to the site, and the testing and development of the site’s features is ongoing. CIGIE welcomes your feedback and suggestions…”

Categories: Research

Supreme Court’s new electronic filing system will begin operation on November 13, 2017

beSpacific - Sun, 08/06/2017 - 17:07

“The Supreme Court’s new electronic filing system will begin operation on November 13, 2017. A quick link on the Court’s website homepage will provide access to the new system, developed in-house to provide prompt and easy access to case documents. Once the system is in place, virtually all new filings will be accessible without cost to the public and legal community. Initially the official filing of documents will continue to be on paper in all cases, but parties who are represented by counsel will also be required to submit electronic versions of documents through the electronic filing system. The filings will then be posted to the Court’s docket and made available to the public through the Court’s website. Filings from parties appearing pro se will not be submitted through the electronic filing system, but will be scanned by Court personnel and made available for public access on the electronic docket. Attorneys who expect to file documents at the Court will register in advance to obtain access to the electronic filing system. Registration will open 4-8 weeks before the system begins operation. Additional information about the system is available through the “Electronic Filing” quick link on the Supreme Court’s website: https://www.supremecourt.gov/.

Categories: Research

Paper – Environmental impacts of food consumption by dogs and cats

beSpacific - Sun, 08/06/2017 - 16:38

Okin GS (2017) Environmental impacts of food consumption by dogs and cats. PLoS ONE 12(8): e0181301. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0181301

“In the US, there are more than 163 million dogs and cats that consume, as a significant portion of their diet, animal products and therefore potentially constitute a considerable dietary footprint. Here, the energy and animal-derived product consumption of these pets in the US is evaluated for the first time, as are the environmental impacts from the animal products fed to them, including feces production. In the US, dogs and cats consume about 19% ± 2% of the amount of dietary energy that humans do..They produce about 30% ± 13%, by mass, as much feces as Americans..and through their diet, constitute about 25–30% of the environmental impacts from animal production in terms of the use of land, water, fossil fuel, phosphate, and biocides. Dog and cat animal product consumption is responsible for release of up to 64 ± 16 million tons CO2-equivalent methane and nitrous oxide, two powerful greenhouse gasses (GHGs). Americans are the largest pet owners in the world, but the tradition of pet ownership in the US has considerable costs. As pet ownership increases in some developing countries, especially China, and trends continue in pet food toward higher content and quality of meat, globally, pet ownership will compound the environmental impacts of human dietary choices. Reducing the rate of dog and cat ownership, perhaps in favor of other pets that offer similar health and emotional benefits would considerably reduce these impacts. Simultaneous industry-wide efforts to reduce overfeeding, reduce waste, and find alternative sources of protein will also reduce these impacts.” [All of us who have companions animals in our homes must proactively engage in seeking viable alternative food products for them [there are many healthy grain and vegetable based food products for cats, dogs and humans). We make decisions each day that impact our environment – the choice to use and discard products in every form (plastic, cardboard) and to consume animals based foods must pivot to alternative diets. The research continues to elucidate unavoidable facts- as inconvenient as they are, the truth requires us to change, for the future lives of humans, animals, and all other species. Stepping off tiny soap box.]

Categories: Research

Myth of one internet has morphed into reality of the ‘splinternet’

beSpacific - Sun, 08/06/2017 - 15:59

August 4, 2017, Terry Flew: “Both The Economist and WIRED are worried about the “splinternet”. The UK research organisation NESTA thinks it could “break up” the world wide web as we know it. What is this awkwardly named idea? It’s the concept that someone’s experience of the internet in Turkey, for example, is increasingly different from their experience of the internet in Australia. Travellers to China, in particular, will be familiar with this phenomenon. Thanks to the government’s tight control, they have to use Baidu rather than Google as their search engine, and are unable to access Facebook or news sites like The Economist and the New York Times. We have a growing splinternet because of regional content blocking and the need for companies to comply with diverse, often conflicting national policies, regulations and court decisions. This tension is particularly apparent when it comes to the likes of Google, Facebook and Twitter. These platform companies have users in almost every country, and governments are increasingly insisting that they comply with local laws and cultural norms when it comes to access and content…the splinternet refers to a broader tendency to use laws and regulatory powers within territorial jurisdictions to set limits on digital activities…”

Categories: Research

LawSites – The 10 Technologies That Most Drive Law Firm Effectiveness

beSpacific - Sun, 08/06/2017 - 15:25

Robert Ambrogi: “A survey released yesterday on the business of law and legal technology finds that competition for legal services remains high, demand remains relatively flat, and law firms are feeling pressure to lower prices and enhance operational efficiency. But what caught my eye in the survey was the question, “Which technologies provide law firms with the greatest overall effectiveness?” The 2017 Aderant Business of Law and Legal Technology Survey, conducted by Aderant, a provider of business management software for lawyers, surveyed 112 respondents in U.S. firms, most of whom are in financial, accounting or C-suite roles. Most of the respondents said that the performance of their firm this year is about the same as last year, and that the top challenges they face are:

  1. Pricing pressure.
  2. Improving operational efficiency.
  3. Winning new business.
  4. Growing more business from existing customers.
  5. Improving law firm agility and adaptability…”
Categories: Research

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